- Rwanda Since the 1994 Genocide
Rwanda Since the 1994 Genocide


Week 3 blog

By dagan on February 10, 2013

In almost every piece of literature I read about Rwanda, there always seems to be mentioning of the fact that Rwandans are so similar in a variety of aspects – same religion, same language, same cultural customs, same neighborhoods, intermarriage, etc. As Umutesi writes, prior to the genocide: “When one looked at the reality of the socio-economic conditions in which the great majority of the Rwandan population lived, there was no difference between Hutu and Tutsi. All faced the same difficulties linked to insufficient agricultural production” (Umutesi 2004: 36). Straus too notes this similarity: “Hutus and Tutsis speak the same language (Kinyarwanda); they belong to the same clans, they live in the same regions and, in most areas, the same neighborhoods; they have the same cultural practices and myths; and they have the same religions. Many also intermarry” (2006: 19-20). Even the NURC report hints at this cultural similarity through its metaphoric language blaming colonial powers for identifying “antagonisms which today are putting the country of the thousand hills to fire and sword” (14). It is no wonder, then, why people are astonished that such a shared culture could turn against one another.

So, where did it all go wrong? In other words, what were the causes of the 1994 genocide? It seems evident in all 3 readings for Thursday the population began to implode thanks to careful calculation and political procedures emanating from the top of society/government. NURC admits that, “the post-colonial predatory powers, instead of getting the country ride of the negative colonial practices, have often institutionalized them for the power” (20). It tries to pin Rwandan democracy as historically (since Social Revolution of 1959 and up until 1994) excluding and victimizing Tutsis. Straus counters this by referring to Habyarimana’s rule which saw a diminish in anti-Tutsi discrimination (2006: 23), yet admits to the fact that “the new consensus holds that specific Hutu hardliners are responsible for the genocide” (Straus 2006: 31).

I am amazed at the sheer power of political manipulation, and how a society that “shares so much in common” can, over time, seemingly implode – and yet at the same time hold on to this idea that society still shares so much in common. A question to the class: do you think Rwandans are still as similar as the literature makes them out to be today? What are your reactions to the policy of national unity? Can one Rwanda for all truly be attained?


1 Comment

  • Professor Thomson said:

    Hold on to these questions, Dagan. We can include them in classroom discussion now that we’ve passed the introductory part of the course and will start to talk about the assigned readings.

    What is your answer to your questions?

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